Despite uncertainty, airport commission plans for the future

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By Nick Seebruch
Despite uncertainty, airport commission plans for the future
The Cornwall Regional Airport (Nick Seebruch/ Seaway News).

CORNWALL, Ontario – On Wednesday, Nov. 3 the Cornwall Regional Airport Commission met for the first time since the City of Cornwall gave notice that it wished to end its working agreement with the Township of South Glengarry to manage the Cornwall Regional Airport.

Since 1984, the City of Cornwall and the Township of South Glengarry, and South Glengarry’s predecessor the Township of Charlottenburgh, have jointly supported and operated the Cornwall Regional Airport.

Under this agreement, the City of Cornwall pays for 85 per cent of the airport’s capital and operating expenses, while the Township of South Glengarry pays the remaining 15 per cent.

The airport is located near Summerstown in South Glengarry.

The Airport Commission is comprised of three representatives from Cornwall City Council and three representatives from South Glengarry Township Council.

In mid-October, City of Cornwall administration recommended that City Council give notice of their intention to terminate the agreement citing that the Airport is mostly used for recreational flying with very little commercial traffic and that the agreement has produced little benefit to Cornwall taxpayers.

The City of Cornwall voted to terminate the agreement at their Oct. 12 meeting.

At their meeting on Nov. 3, the members of the Airport Commission received an update from South Glengarry Chief Administration Officer Tim Mills on the current situation between the two municipalities as far as the airport was concerned.

Mills explained that both municipal councils were discussing amongst themselves the best way to move forward.

City of Cornwall Councillor Justin Towndale said that despite his colleagues voting to give notice of termination of the agreement, the agreement would remain in effect for at least two years.

“At this point in time, the agreement that has been in place since 1984 is still in place. Until a time where both parties agree to anything different, that’s status quo and we need to continue on that way as far as I’m concerned,” said South Glengarry Deputy Mayor Lyle Warden who chaired the Commission meeting.

South Glengarry Councillor and Commission member Martin Lang agreed, but said that he hoped that the situation was resolved quickly to avoid ongoing uncertainty.

“I agree with that. I think we as a commission need to move forward and at least continue on with the day-to-day operations,” he said. ” I don’t like that uncertainty going on that long. I hope negotiations with the City go on sooner rather than later. It seems like we’re up in the air all the time now.”

Airport Manager Steve Small noted that the Airport had been contacted by Aaron Bell, who said he represented a group of investors who were willing to offer support to the Airport should that become necessary.

The Commission was also presented with the Airport budget to review.

For 2021, the Airport had budgeted revenues of $106,000, but as of November, had exceeded that number reaching $107,122.07.

The expenses of the Airport exceeded its revenues, with total budgeted expenses for the year being $259,560, with $160,789.95 being spent as of November.

For 2021, the Airport had been budgeted to receive $130,526 from the City of Cornwall but had only received $52,524.50, with the balance of the budgeted number not being approved by Cornwall City Council during their 2021 budget process.

The Township of South Glengarry was budgeted to contribute $23,034 to the Airport in 2021, but had actually paid $70,000. South Glengarry contributed more than what was budgeted to help with the purchase of land for the Airport.

Another item of note discussed by the Commission at their Nov. 3 meeting was growing interest in leasing one of the Airport’s hangars.

There were three parties that had expressed interest in leasing the Airport hangar including Tim McDonell of North Glengarry for the storage of his aircraft. McDonell had stated that he would be willing to invest in the hangar including upgrading the entrance gate and the concrete pad in front of the hangar.

Other interested parties included Academy of Aeronautics based in Mirabel who are looking to establish a satellite training school. Small said that the negotiations with the Academy of Aeronautics had progressed to an advanced stage with the group expressing strong interest in leasing one of the Airport’s hangars.

The third party interested in leasing one of the hangars is the Canadian Aviation College based in BC, which like the Academy of Aeronautics is seeking to establish a satellite training school.

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